Low season pass sales and debt expenses are resulting in scaled back snowmaking and opening plans.
Thursday, December 4, 2014, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
Unease is continuing to cloud Vermont's Magic Mountain, as a recent web site post by owner Tom Barker points to financial woes.
In June, Barker announced that he would be assuming operational control of the mountain from James Sullivan and JLS Magic, LLC. Sullivan began operating the mountain in 2006, but was unsuccessful in his attempts to replicate a Mad River Glen cooperative at Magic. Prior to Sullivan's arrival, Magic had been through a series of ownership changes and bankruptcies, as well as a multi-season closure in the 1990s.
In a December 4, 2014 post on Magic Mountain's web site, Barker said, "[c]omparing ticket sales this year with last year it seems that many are either not going to buy season passes or are putting off the purchase until Christmas week. If that is what customers are planning then we will have to be slow starting snowmaking."
Barker also stated that existing funds had been used to pay down debt and that no further investment would be made in the operation this year: "A lot of this year's season ticket revenue (that sold between March and July) was spent cleaning up costs for last year's operations. That cleanup was necessitated by the extensive high interest rate loans taken out in the fall for mountain opening. We are not doing that this year. But if we are not going to take out loans for opening and I've invested all I can afford then snowmaking will depends [sic] upon how fast we can sell season passes."
Barker's post also suggests that the oft-troubled Black Chair is yet again in need of repair. The Pohlig-Yan triple has been idle for part or all of many recent seasons due to various issues. The mountain's other chairlift is a 43 year old Heron-Poma double.
In an interesting twist, Barker's December 4 post was removed later in the day and replaced with a more generic marketing type of message. Further information was given on the status of the Black Chair, citing the need for a variance from the Vermont Tramway Board.